I hope your last few days were as good as mine!
Friday we opened South Backcountry. A couple teams of us did the pre-bootpack wallow up the King carrying lots of extra explosives. We always go a little heavier early-season when “true backcountry” conditions exist, before Southback gets all the skier/boarder compaction of unstable snowpack layers. (That’s why we try to get things open as soon as we safely can–because it’s that compaction that really reduces future avalanche hazard.) Anyway, we carried up all these explosives, but ended up only throwing a couple shots because the snow just wasn’t that deep or layered. So it was just an exercise in skiing down in sketchy conditions carrying a heavy pack.
The SE side of the King still had plenty of little tree-top avalanche anchors poking out of the snow, so we veered hard right along the ridge toward Three Way Peak and—Hey! Where’d the boxcar cornice go? The previous days’ East wind had seriously scoured the top of Silver Basin. But there were enough places to scootchy in through the rocks, and we had plenty-o’-fun lower down, so we opened ‘er up.
Then Saturday, Jeff & I got to ski-evaluate Penny Dogs, which was heavenly if ya’ don’t count tappin’ yer bases on the occasional stump or log under knee-deep pow. Getting down the exit chute required that we (as near as possible) tippy-toe on skis through the rocks, but the bottom part was sweet and worth the caution.
So MY take-away was this:
Though we always recommend you stay on the groomed trails for safety, for those who want to venture off into the untracked stuff for fun, there’s a LOT of great snow to be had! Just use a little extra care to avoid getting hurt on stuff you can’t see, and be of good cheer: There’s no need to be so prissy about getting a few little base scratches: P-tex can easily be made good-as-new by our friends at local ski and board shops! (Insert local ski/board shop ad here.)
I’ll soon be answering some of those questions I’ve been getting, but today’s my day off–GOTTA GO SKI!